Surely Paris is the City of Light and experiencing it after the sun goes down has a charm of its own. But what about all the things to do in Paris in the morning? Will it be less exciting or adventuristic?
Actually, not at all. Early hours are the time when the city starts waking up from the urban slumber and everything comes to life back again. The sirens honking, busy walkers hurrying and going about their business while you, the unassuming visitor, prepare to experience this eclectic city as you’ve never seen it before.
If you only have an hour or two, then you’ll just have to soak up the view as you go by but there’s a great chance you won’t get to do or see anything. Provided that you have an entire morning at your disposal, you can go full-throttle on exploring all the nooks and crannies.
1. Grab a croissant
Nothing says Paris like a fresh croissant. Luckily, you are at one of the best places to taste this iconic pastry. The signature delicacy is a great way to kick off your day in Paris.
A lot of bakeries open in the early hours and this is your perfect opportunity to savor a mouth-watering croissant fresh from the oven. Not all croissants are created equal, though. This is why expats and locals are here to help us. For several years in a row, there are a few bakeries that keep topping the lists according to the polls.
Addresses: 2, rue Wurtz, 75013 Paris (open 7.30am – 8.00pm from Monday to Saturday) and 238, rue de la Convention, 75015 Paris (open 8.30am – 7.30pm Tuesday to Saturday)
La Maison d’Isabelle
Address: 47, Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75005 Paris (6.00 am to 8.30 pm from Tuesday to Sunday)
Des Gateaux et Du Pain
Addresses: 63, boulevard Pasteur, 75015 Paris (open Wednesday to Monday from 9.00 am – 8.00 pm) and 89 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris (open Wednesday to Monday from 10.00 am – 8.00 pm)
2. Have your morning coffee
With croissant purchased, you will definitely need a cup of fresh coffee to wake up your senses. There are two options – grab it on the go if you’re in a rush or sip it peacefully ‘en terrace’ (right on the street). Even if you’re in Paris during the winter months, a lot of Parisian cafés will still have their patios open and heated. Here are the most praised ones, to name a few.
La Fontaine de Belleville
Address: 31-33 Rue Juliette Dodu, 75010 Paris
Opening hours: 8.00 am
Address: 40 Rue Chapon, 75003 Paris
Opening hours: 8.30 am
Address: 22 Rue de la Folie Méricourt, 75011 Paris
Opening hours: 9.00 am
3. Hit the park
With only moments before everything starts buzzing, you can get a taste of Paris in perfect tranquility. With over 400 municipal parks and gardens covering more than 3 000 hectares, it really won’t be hard to find a green surface no matter where you are. Although many are open around the clock, some close for the night. They do open early in the morning, though. In addition to this, many of the parks host various events and some of them may coincide with your visit.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont – one of the largest parks in Paris (almost 25 hectares). The entrance is free and the park is open from 7.00 am.
Address: 1 Rue Botzaris, 75019 Paris
Bois de Vincennes – the lungs of Paris (955 hectares of greenery, lakes, monuments, and a zoo). The entrance is free but there are fees for attractions. The park is open 24/7.
Address: Route de la Pyramide, 75012 Paris
Parc de La Villette – an open-air park (55 hectares). Admission is free and the park opens its gates from 6.00 am until 1.00 am.
Address: 211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris
Parc de Belleville – panoramic views of Paris across 45 000 square meters. The park opens at 8.00 am on week days.
Address: 47 Rue des Couronnes, 75020 Paris
Read more: Top Beaches in Northern France
4. Get your bargain at a flea market
The early birds of Paris will probably tell you that the best time to rummage through the flea markets is at the crack of dawn. Paris has a world-wide reputation for being one of the hotspots for flea markets and it’s for a good reason. An embarrassment of riches is enough to sink ten ships. You can expect to find some incredibly unexpected treasures so keep your eyes open. Before you go, you have to learn how to bargain like a pro!
Les Puces de Clignancourt (Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen) – the largest flea market in Paris and possibly in the world. Not only does it attract over 11 million visitors a year but it also has a whopping 2 500 stalls selling anything you can possibly think of.
Address: Rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint Ouen
Opening hours: 9.00 am on weekends and 11.00 am on weekdays
Marche aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves – a great flea market offering a variety of items (books, antiques, collectibles)
Address: 1 Avenue Georges Lafenestre, 75014 Paris
Opening hours: Weekends at 7.00 am
Marché aux Puces d’Aligre – sells books, textiles, antiques, art, glassware, and many more.
Address: Place d’Aligre, 75012 Paris
Opening hours: 8.00 am
5. Stroll along the Seine
You can take a long walk, also known as Paris Right Bank Walk, which will take you along the charming river but you will also have an opportunity to spot and admire some of the most famous landmarks of Paris. This is one of the most famous walking tours in Paris. You can go on a self-guided tour or join a group.
If you walk at a steady pace, you can walk the full length in a little over one hour. However, if you have all the time in the world, it can easily turn into a 2-3 hours stroll. If you turn just around a few corners, you will get to see Champs-Élysées, Musée des Beaux-Arts, the Louvre, Place da la Concorde, Tuileries Garden, Arc de Triomphe, and the iconic Eiffel Tower. Although Notre Dame Cathedral is now tragically damaged, you will still get a hint of its former magnitude and grace.
Read more: Europe’s Most Popular Cities
6. Climb the iconic monuments
Paris is an eyeful and even more so if you get to climb some of its most breath-taking viewpoints. These hotspots are usually very crowded but you will have the upper hand because there are fewer people around in the morning hours.
Parc de Belleville is the highest park in the city and it offers spectacular panoramas of Paris, especially at sunrise. You can visit it any time and it’s free of charge.
Arc de Triomphe is yet another outstanding viewpoint and it sees far lesser crowds than the Eiffel Tower. The entrance fee is €12 and it opens at 10.00 am.
Catching the amazing Parisian views is also possible from one of the tallest observation decks in the city – Tour Montparnasse. This 56-floor building is open for visitors from 9.30 am and the entrance is charged €18.
7. Visit the Louvre
It may seem like a mission impossible unless you have a whole day ahead but in reality, you can squeeze the visit in around 2 hours. Of course, that’s if you’re in a rush. If not, then you can just enjoy your time. In the morning, the Louvre is not as crowded as it is in the afternoon hours. This tour of the museum is something you simply have to do, especially if you have a knack for art.
Louvre opens its doors at 9.00 am and the lines can be notoriously long so it’s best to purchase a skip-the-line ticket online well in advance. Otherwise, you shouldn’t even bother going there unless you have around 4-5 hours at hand.
Tickets purchased on-site are €15 and online tickets cost €17. These two extra euros are well worth the money and nerves.
8. Go on an early-morning cruise
You can see Paris from a whole new perspective if you embark on one of the morning cruises down the Seine or on the canals. It’s a great way to start your day in Paris before you explore it on foot.
As you glide on the water, you can spot some of the most remarkable landmarks, such as Musée d’Orsay, the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and many more. All tours have a guide who will provide commentary on all you need to know about the city’s rich history. A lot of tours start as early as 8.30 am.
Best Seine Boat Tours: Vedettes du Pont Neuf, Bateaux Mouches, Bateaux Parisiens.
Best Canal Tours: Canauxrama, Marin d’Eau Douce, Un Bateau à Paris.
9. Have a delicious breakfast
There’s nothing quite like an authentic French breakfast to get you into high gear for other morning activities. You can and you must savor the moment at some of the coolest places in Paris before you start exploring further.
Traditional French breakfast comprises croissants, tartines, and coffee with milk but more and more international dishes and delicacies have made the scene, adding more variety for the foodies visiting Paris. Here are the top recommendations.
Fragments – Go there for cinnamon buns, iced coffee, avocado toast, and carrot cake.
Address: 76 rue des Tournelles, 75003 Paris
Opening hours: 7.00 am
Marcelle – Go there for healthy eating options (dairy and gluten-free)
Address: 22 Rue Montmartre, 75001, Paris
Opening hours: 9.00 am
Coutume Café – Go there for pancakes, eggs, bacon, and granola.
Address: 47 Rue de Babylone, 75007 Paris
Opening hours: 8.30 am
10. Just walk!
It’s obvious you can rarely run out of ideas for what do in Paris, even in the morning. If you just start walking around the city, the opportunities for an unforgettable visit to Paris will spring up at every step. So, embrace the adventure and prepare a pair of sturdy walking shoes.
Closing words of wisdom
- In case you need to fill a few-hours layover between flights, keep in mind you will need at least 2 hours to get to the city from the CDG airport.
- If you need to spend the interim between your arrival and the check-in time, it’s best to drop your bags at the hotel and see what’s in the vicinity beforehand. If that’s not an option, pick a cafe and enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee before heading to your hotel.
- Although you should take some precautions while taking the metro, especially during the night, you don’t have to worry about safety in the early hours.